25 March 2019 (released)
25 March 2019
Five years on from lauded debut ‘Rips’, power-pop trio Ex-Hex are back: riffier, rockier, glammier. Comprised of Mary Timony (lick-axe), Betsy Wright (ace bass) and Laura Harris (thrum-drums) they combine The Runaways street smarts, the Go-Gos pop-nous and The Knack’s bubblegum-beat, creating an updated version of what author and ethnographer Mavis Bayton termed ‘frock rock’.
The prolific Timony is a veteran of Washington’s alt-scene (Altclave, Helium) also performing with Sleater Kinney’s Janet Weiss and Carrie Brownstein in Wild Flag and guesting on Stephen ‘Magnetic Fields’ Merrit’s side-project The 6ths.
Riot Grrrl’s shemasculation of rock’s tropes and dopes permeates throughout ‘It’s real’ as the quest for authenticity and sincerity proves taxing, albeit fruitful.
Crunching riffs kick off the questioning ‘Tough Enough’, a bruising and bracing gauntlet is thrown down to a dithering self, stick or twist, take the plunge or forever hold your tongue, acting tough isn’t the same as being tough. A cacophonous finale showcases the all kills, no frills aesthetic of free-mancipation. Rainbow’s timeless ‘Since you been gone’ gets a soundcheck on the lamenting ‘Medley’.
The fuzz-rocking ‘Cosmic cave’ crashes in with Buzzcocking searing string-slashing even nodding to the Mancunian marvels with harmonised ‘Whoah-oahs’ and a positing of love’s veracity or was it all an illusion?
Simplicity is the key to brilliance and the anthemic ‘Good Times’ oozes this efficacy. A hindsight hark back to a seemingly more tranquil time or are these memories actually woes tinted?
‘Radiate’ is a one-for-the-road pub rock glam-stomp, a veritable she-bop deluxe: there’s hope without hopelessness as ‘diamonds in the sky falling down tonight’ hints at a brighter, glittering future … given time.
Whilst it doesn’t veer too far from ‘Rips’’s template it remains ear-worming pedal machine music for the femme-powered amongst us.